It’s the end of September, and if you hadn’t noticed, this is my first blog post in months. The last few months have been busy at work, and kind of hectic in general, but being busy isn’t actually what kept me from blogging – lack of motivation and the total shitshow that is my mental health are what really did me in. I’m a little bit used to struggling with motivation when it comes to things I don’t always love, like going to the gym or getting laundry done, but it seems strange to find myself struggling to post new content on this blog when writing is something I enjoy.
One of the reasons I started a blog was because I have a lot of thoughts that I find easiest to express through writing (and then editing the shit out of. I second guess and edit almost every sentence of everything I write, including Facebook posts.) I am an expert at writing long-winded text messages and paragraph-long Facebook posts about all of the things I’m thinking all of the time. I can go on and on once I start thinking about something, but over the last few months, sitting down to write blog posts has left my mind totally blank. I have a list of blog post ideas and things I’d love to write about, but when it was time to actually sit and write, it’s like I had no opinion about anything.
A huge part of the problem recently has been that, despite my laziest-but-sort-of-best effort to take care of myself and my health, depression has crept back into my life. I say crept because it took me a while to realize that’s what was happening, but it really hit me like a ton of bricks. All the typical depression symptoms (sleeping problems, eating problems and mood problems) were popping up, but I basically ignored them because I figured it was something that would pass. It’s been a while since I was depressed in a way that affected my daily life, and when I take my ADHD medication consistently, depression has not really been an issue. Until now.
Around the middle of May, I noticed that my ADHD medication just wasn’t working for me the way it used to, and I finally went to my doctor who told me it sounded like depression was the real issue. For the most part, my ADHD medication has helped with what used to be the symptoms of depression that I struggled with most: severe mood swings, irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and trouble getting and staying motivated. I went years diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and misdiagnosed as bipolar, before a doctor diagnosed my ADHD. Once I started taking ADHD medication, it was like I was living in a whole new world. Being diagnosed with ADHD and starting medication was the most effective way I’ve ever been able to handle the symptoms of what I always thought was depression.
What I never considered, since it hasn’t really been a problem until now, is that depression could still be part of the equation. ADHD medication helped me deal with things like my complete inability to focus long enough to finish anything, the constant thoughts running through my head, and my total lack of impulse control. They were the things that annoyed other people in my life the most, and the things I struggled with the most personally, so as long as they were handled I was basically good to go. I could count on one hand how many panic attacks I’ve had in the couple of years that I’ve only been on ADHD medication. I would need to grow more hands to count how many full-on breakdowns I’ve had in the last few months that ended with me physically and mentally exhausted. The realization that my ADHD medication was no longer helping me fully manage all these symptoms and issues was really frustrating to me, because I thought I had everything fairly under control, and now it feels like I don’t know anything at all.
I almost forgot what it felt like to feel pain and anxiety and depression so bad that I just sobbed and hyperventilated and wished for death. This is probably the one time where saying I wished for death is not hyperbole; I literally find myself begging for death in my own head when my panic attacks get to their lowest, worst point. It’s hard to describe the pain that I get inside my chest and stomach – it’s not something that I would think was a heart attack, but it’s something that hurts so badly I find myself holding onto my own stomach in the fetal position sobbing, or gripping whatever I can get a solid grasp on to try and just ride out the pain. It’s hard to breath and hard to think of a time where the pain is just going to go away, and I find myself repeating “Just kill me. Please, just kill me,” over and over in my head. Is this an effective way to handle a panic attack? Probably not. Can I afford therapy to learn effective ways to deal with a panic attack? No. Maybe I’ll Google it one day.
In addition to the increase in panic attacks, I’ve noticed that I’ve had problems focusing and even just getting motivated enough to start anything. Basically everything feels like a substantial task to me. Getting out of bed some days takes me over an hour once I finally wake up. I can literally lay in bed for an hour, awake and doing nothing, before mustering up enough energy to actually roll myself out of bed. Half the time the only reason I am able to do so is because after sleeping on-and-off for 10 hours and laying in bed awake for an hour, I really have to pee.
Getting my work done every day is the most mentally exhausting thing I can handle, and I only do it because I know I won’t have a job if I don’t. If I had to actually get up and go to an office, I’m not sure if I would still have a job, but luckily working from home means I can save some of my energy by not putting on real pants and occasionally just bringing my laptop into my room to work from my bed. It’s not the most professional, but in times like these it’s either be a little unprofessional or be completely useless and then out of a job altogether.
This overwhelming suppression of my real life, which in its normal state is pretty alright, has totally changed how my world has worked the last few months. I’ve been eating like absolute trash. Other than my occasional barre3 classes (which are the one thing I actually get myself out of bed for because I can’t afford to miss a class I paid for, and once I leave I usually feel slightly better than usual), I’ve totally skipped out on exercise. I’ve gained almost 40lbs since June, and not only do I see it now, I’m feeling it too. The depression came back before the weight did, and as my mental health started to crumble, so did my physical health. Now, it feels like I have a huge mountain to climb just to get back to a state of normality, and I don’t even feel that great, I’m just more aware of the fact that depression is trying to take over my life.
As much as I tried to write blog posts about what I love about barre3, my love/hate relationship with music festivals, and why I like travelling alone, I just could not pull together a coherent thought for long enough to create something worth reading. I started a blog so that I could write about all the thoughts and feelings I have and how I navigate the not-so-great days in life, but I also want it to be a place where other people share in that, where people read posts and go “yep, I totally get that” or “I’ve never experienced that but I understand it a bit better now.” I’m not just putting every thought I have out into the Universe to get it out of my head, I want my thoughts to connect me with other people who understand or want to learn more about what I’m writing about. It may not be glamorous, or intriguing, or happy in any way, but it’s my real life and I know it’s not something that is unique to me.
Right now I’m in kind of a weird in-between place where I know that depression is mangling my thoughts sometimes, but I’m not able to really get a handle on fixing things. I can see that all my efforts to be more organized and eat better and manage my time properly have been essentially destroyed, but I’m not yet at a point where I can even picture working towards putting my life back together. It’s like I’m in some sort of Depression Limbo. Things are kind of looking up, but once I’m back to a functioning level of existence, I know there is a lot of work to be done to get back to the way my life was headed before this all hit me.